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Unneeded medical brace appears to be part of Medicare scam

Back brace potential scam
The Hellickson's stand in their kitchen with the back brace they believe to be part of a scam.

ABERDEEN, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - For the past several weeks, Glenna Hellickson has been receiving calls from a man who seems to have a lot of personal information about her husband, Edward.

On Dec. 2, Hellickson answered a call from a man looking to "verify" some of Edward's medical information.

"You are such and such height, you've had back surgery, your waist is such and such, your doctor is the two doctors that he goes to," Hellickson said the man asked.

According to Hellickson, the man then told her that he was going to send them a back brace that had been "prescribed" for her husband. "And we need to send it to you at no cost to you," she said the man explained.

Edward has had back surgery but doesn't require a back brace. So, Hellickson called the doctors to see exactly what was going on. Both doctors said they hadn't ordered one.

"As far as I'm concerned," Glenna said one doctor replied, "I think it's a scam ... we have never discussed a back brace, ever."

Last Friday, a package arrived at the Hellickson's Aberdeen home. The family was expecting some things they had ordered, but inside one box was something they hadn't -- an ARYSE back brace.

Confused and concerned, Hellickson called Medicare to see exactly what was going on. Glenna said the person she spoke to told her that anyone calling from a medical company could ask for all of your medical information.

"Your doctors, what's happened, everything," she said.

During the same phone call, Medicare told Hellickson they had been billed $1,450 by Florida based Woodlane Medical for the brace. On their website, ARYSE back braces generally sell for $189.

Since the first call in early December, the caller, who identified himself as "Eric" from "Pain Resource Management," has called Hellickson 19 times. "Four of them have come from my doctor's office number," she said.

"It's scary," she said, "he's threatened me. He says, 'I know where you live, I know your phone number,' and he said 'I'm comin'.'"

Hellickson reported the caller to the police on the first day, but she says they can't do much since they can't prove it's an actual scam.

"I wonder how many other people have been scammed by the same thing and don't realize that they're being scammed," Glenna said. "If something like this happens in the little town of Aberdeen, Idaho, you know, what are they doing in New York?"

Glenna's experience sounds eerily similar to another brace scam from earlier this year, where the total estimated loss Medicare exceeded $1.2 billion.

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